Just Say No to "60 Minutes"
Oct 31, 2016 09:40AM ● Published by Leland Rucker
I don’t know if you caught 60 Minutes last night, but it included “Just Say ‘No’ to Recreational Pot?,” with Dr. Jonathan LaPook supposedly reporting on the effects of marijuana legalization in Colorado, specifically Pueblo County, where a ban on its thriving growing operations there is on the ballot next week.
I stopped thinking of 60 Minutes as a
serious news source when Mike Wallace died (and the network includes a Wallace
report from decades ago on illegal grows in Kansas on its website), CBS has
done some decent reporting on cannabis, specifically about seniors using marijuana
instead of pharmaceutical drugs. But Dr. LaPook takes us back to the dawn of the 1970s, when
President Richard Nixon convinced Congress that marijuana was the biggest
threat facing the US and classified it as a Schedule One drug.
of perhaps talking with at least one person (there are thousands to choose
from) who uses marijuana medically or one person who uses it recreationally, or
even mentioning any medical benefits whatsoever, LaPook trots out the usual
suspects. He finds an emergency-room doctor in Pueblo who says that he’s
finding that some infants test positive for cannabis when they are born, that
more teenagers are coming into emergency rooms after marijuana “overdoses” and
that there are concerns about stoned teens behind the wheel.
mind that LaPook finally admits near the end that this is all anecdotal stuff,
and that there are no data to confirm that more under-aged people are toking
and driving or that more teens are using cannabis than before legalization. (I
could have show him some pretty good data that say neither of those things is
he talks with a sheriff who explains that though they “were told the black
market would go away,” law enforcement is still busting illegal grows that have
has ever said that the black market would just vanish – it has been active for
more than half a century, after all – and at least part of the pot diversion elsewhere
might have something to do with those states keeping it illegal. But we don’t
course, he does mention the dangers of today’s higher THC levels, again
completely anecdotal, and a healthcare professional explains that marijuana
stays in the system longer than alcohol, which she admits makes it more
difficult to determine if a person is impaired or just tests positive.
Gov. John Hickenlooper, the only voice of reason in the entire 15 minutes, explains
that though he suggests to other states considering legalization to be
deliberate in their approach, legal marijuana is a complete improvement over what
it replaced. But after a leading question about whether legalizing is “tricky,”
LaPook manages to make Hick look like he could be a doubter.
Five states are considering legalizing cannabis and ending the stupidity of the drug war. More than half of all Americans support legalization, and even more support medical marijuana. All
in all, a great opportunity wasted, and yet more proof of the decline of a
once-formidable news program. There’s even a Nancy Reagan reference in the
headline. That should have been warning enough. Just say no to 60 Minutes.